Punks Not Dead & NFT’s Ain’t Either

Kia ora! The following interview is with NFT collector and photographer Beldruger. 

For context, this interview was conducted just before the H=N exploit June 2021 and was intended to be part of a NFT project that unfortunately won’t be going ahead. Thankfully, Micol from VerticalCrypto Art has allowed these interviews to be published here. I’d like to thank Beldruger for making himself available and also my thanks to Micol for making this possible. Links to NFTs are embedded in the image title.

Written by Zero Alpha

ZeroAlpha: Hi Beldrueger. Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed. We know each other from you collecting my work, Aureum Chaos and other nft’s. But I haven’t had the chance to dive deeper about your history in the crypto art space. Can you give us a run down how you came into the space as a collector and also as an artist with your photography?

Beldrueger: I’m honored to have this opportunity. I’m a big believer in NFT’s and Crypto and hope I can share some helpful learnings. I’ve always had a strong interest in both art and technology. Technology is my profession and art is a passion. I was a drummer in a touring punk rock band in my youth, and many of my friends went on to pursue careers in art and music. Our bassist used to hand-draw most of our flyers and went on to be a notable painter in LA. In fact, I have physical paintings from several of my good friends on my walls. For me, it was music and photography, but after my band days, strictly as a hobby. It’s only recently that I’ve been in the position to start actually investing in art. I’ve also always been a bit of an aesthete collector of stuff. My house has a lot of minor collections, masks, art, and whatever I find interesting. NFT’s hit a lot of buttons for me. I came in with the hype wave in February and immediately saw how beautifully NFT”s solved the challenge of monetizing types of art that previously had no market and creating a direct connection with artists through the community. I loved that the gatekeepers were nowhere to be seen, that artists were experimenting, and that it felt like we were all just figuring it out together.

ZeroAlpha: One thing I’d like to dig into is how things in the nft space changed for a collector such as yourself when H=N came online. I know you were collecting there pretty early. What was it like coming from the big platforms to this bare bones underground marketplace?

Beldrueger: HEN takes the experimentation in NFT’s up to 11. Back in my punk days, I loved the chaotic energy and tight community. Everyone was in it because they loved it. The stakes were low. I get the same vibe from HEN. It’s a community with a ton of internal engagement. The artists all collect, great art quickly gets noticed, and because prices are low, it encourages higher participation and experimentation. Take Fawkek, who minted highly polished works on Foundation. On HEN, their work is absurd, low rez, and fun. It’s really amazing. I do believe that certain artists have to find the right market and medium, and for John Karel, Fiedler, and others, they seemed uniquely suited for HEN. Those artists are good examples where the art iterates on a consistent theme, so the voice of their work builds strength with volume. Hen enables that through low minting fees and high liquidity. Imagine if John minted a single window on Foundation, it simply would not have the impact of seeing 25 thematic variations all in the same place. I am not a big believer in scarcity. If I open an artists collection and quickly see multiple pieces that have a similar theme, I feel like I understand them that much faster. If I can then buy a few editions at once, I’m now a permanent fan. If I wasn’t able to buy an edition, I may forget the work and not remember to come back searching for an elusive 1:1 later. Take your work, I have really appreciated the evolution across platforms, and now a new collector can open your HEN portfolio and immediately get it, and buy it.

ZeroAlpha: As mentioned you also mint your photography on H=N. I had my eye on 6.9.19 Navajo Nation for a while. Can you tell us about your process with your photography? I understand you are a commercial pilot, you must see the world from a different perspective , do you always have your camera on hand?

Beldrueger: With photography, I’ve always enjoyed finding the perfect moment and composition. With digital photography, it’s become more of an art of curation. I take 10’s of thousands of photos and have selected those that I think fit a theme and bring a unique perspective. I am not a commercial pilot, I just flew a ridiculous amount, over 250,000 miles a year before the pandemic. That adds a layer of challenge in that the conditions have to be right, I’m beholden to the weather, route, and seat. The window also may be slightly hazy. All that works against capturing a great shot, but makes it all the more satisfying when I find one that is just perfect. Most flyers don’t ever look out the window. Sometime in my 30’s I made the decision that I would always take a window seat when I flew and always appreciate the view. I’m 6’2”, so that wasn’t the comfortable choice, but it’s the soul-satisfying choice. When I thought about what I could bring to this space that was unique, I knew that this semi-obsessive micro-hobby I had of taking photographs every time I flew allowed me to share something that wasn’t common. I’ve caught moments and seen colors in the air that are once in a lifetime. The problem is that now that I am not flying as much, I don’t have as much material. I’m working on some ground based ideas, but I want to keep my work thematic and in sets, focusing on unique perspectives and compositions.

6.9.19 Navajo Nation

ZeroAlpha: I know our first DM’s were discussing our appreciation for display panels to showcase your collection. Could you let the readers know how this evolved and how you use these panels in your house? Interested also to know how non crypto art friends/family react to seeing your collection. Do they see past the screen and take the art for what it is?

Beldrueger: Yes. I am all about the displays. Art should be shared, and for most situations dedicated displays are still the ideal medium. I also believe this is a significantly underdeveloped space that will evolve rapidly in the next 5 years, both in terms of the types of displays on offer, but also in terms of how artists think through the pairing of work and display format. I currently have 6 NFT displays up and another 5 on backorder. 6 are standard 16:9 aspect ratio and 5 are square. I have sets of vertical and square displays, including a wall of 4 Bluecanvas square displays. Three are actually arriving tomorrow, so I should have that wall complete within a week. I have Qonos, Bluecanvas, Meural and Samsung Frame TV displays in that mix, they all have pluses and minuses. No one has fully nailed the software, so there is a clear hole in the market for better options and alternative aspect ratios. Displays add a whole other layer to the experience, as I now curate my collection on display. Think about the set of 4 square displays. I make every attempt to buy sets of 4 square works in a similar theme. This is much much easier on HEN versus other platforms, so there is an interesting advantage to high edition low cost platforms that I don’t think a lot of people are even considering now. I think three things will happen with NFT displays. 1) The options will explode, 2) NFT’s will start to be crafted with display in mind, because, 3) This will become a primary channel to get people excited about and introduced to NFT’s. Everyone who comes to my house now immediately asks about the art and gets introduced to NFT’s. It’s such an easier way to explain it when you are standing right in front of it.

4 Bluecanvas square displays

ZeroAlpha: I know this may be hard but any chance of picking your 3 favourite works you have collected and give us an insight on how these connected with you? Also could you give some insight into the personal qualities of these artists as individuals, outside of their art that connects with you. Things like backstory’s, social media presence etc

Beldrueger: That’s incredibly hard, as my tastes are broad. I may bend the rules a bit here. I’m going to keep you out of the answer to be fair, but I incredibly appreciate your art, engagement, openness, and support for this community, three things that are common with the artists on my list. I will start with Chemical Messiah. There is a whole online whirlwind around Joshua, as he is a relentless promoter of both himself and others. He is incredibly approachable, and he backs it all up with great art. Great art always wins in the end, but I do believe that engagement is critical. It’s something that I try to prioritize as a collector, and something that I look for in artists. As a collector, I am trying to be more intentional and thoughtful around what work I collect, how I promote it, and how I engage. All things that I see Chemical Messiah do intuitively well. Within that circle, I am also a big fan of Lucrece, who makes great work, sent me a free print for LOSING an auction, and schooled me on Zizek and neo-expressionism. The third is a bit of a left turn, in that they are pseudonymous and focused on a collection. I have dabbled in collectibles and series, but focus on art. I’ve been sucked in by KinkySkullx, first by the art, but then by the community, with a very active discord channel. It’s a slow drip and well thought out project, so it doesn’t fall into the FOMO trap, and the creator is highly engaged and enthusiastic. I don’t have the bandwidth for too many discord channels, and I am not typically into avatars. This one just hit me. You can’t argue tastes. There are way too many notable mentions, but I want to call out Lip Comarella, who has been incredibly generous with his time, has amazing work and is technically brilliant. Past that there are easily another 20 or more artists who I’ve had great online conversations with and whose work I continue to collect.

Chemical Messiah-empty human feeling

Chemical Messiah on Twitter

Des Lucréce- The Tez

Des Lucréce on Twitter

ZeroAlpha: Really keen to hear your perspective of the current crypto art scene as it stands today and what you think the future holds for all of us as both artists and collectors. With the metaverse just around the corner, would that be something you can see yourself migrating towards?

Beldrueger: I think we are in a lull, the classic hype cycle term would be that we are in the ‘trough of disillusionment’. The majority opinion of NFT’s is still blissful ignorance or disregard. There are two parallel, yet intertwined use cases that are now established and will continue to grow, digital art and collectibles. Beyond that, I see incredible potential for the technology to evolve. Let’s start with digital art. There were limited channels for digital artists to monetize their work prior to NFT’s. NFT’s opened up a whole new market, and I don’t see that ever going away. The speculators rushed in and out, but the base is strong. We will see this space continue to grow, but the unknown is how the spoils will be distributed. We already see HEN concentrating trading on a small set of artists. There will always be momentum and hype seekers chasing the next big thing, but I’m hopeful that we will see an ongoing ‘long tail’ of opportunities for artists simply because it is so accessible and global. I love the fact that an unknown marginalized artist in Brazil can find an audience so easily through NFT’s, and in that way, I believe in the social good of what NFT’s and crypto bring to the global community. No more power brokers. No more gatekeepers. For collectibles, I’m slightly less bullish. I think there is more tulip-mania around quick pump and dump projects. It’s purely commercial and the intangibility of NFT’s plays less well here. Digital art is a unique medium, but I have a harder time rationalizing a generative avatar over a hand drawn work or a sports clip over say, a game ball. I may just need to open my mind there a bit more. Beyond these segments, which have a strong foundation, there are so many possibilities. I’m not sure about music, as the incremental value of NFT’s over established DRM is less significant. For art, it was untapped, but for music, digital delivery and ownership has mature models. Although, I would love to be able to resell songs. I think I just changed my mind. I’m also very excited to see what we can do on chain. Artblocks and poetry are interesting, but what’s next. All I can say with certainty is that 2030 is going to be awesome in NFT world.

ZeroAlpha:To wrap things up, I’d like to extend my gratitude to you for not only collecting my art but for also doing this interview. I regard you as one of the most legit collectors who helps support and grow the community without the hype and fan fare. An attribute I sure will stand the test of time and keep the scene on a good bearing. In closing is there anything else you’d like the readers to know, shout out or standout artists on your radar. Much respect Beldrueger . Stay safe

Thanks. Again, I’m honored to have this opportunity and to have your work in my collection. My advice to everyone in this space is that change is hard and that people don’t like change. I’ve seen all the friction and the ups and the downs in my short time here, and it looks like any other technological or social revolution. It’s messy. It’s chaotic, and it can be confusing. Invest in it. Stick with it and you will learn, evolve, and find rewards. I’ve been inspired, made friends, and reinvigorated my own love for art and creating. Check out my collection on Showtime to see all 500+ works and all of the artists that I love. Pick up one of my photographs on HEN. Follow me on Twitter, and DM me anytime.

Beldrueger on Twitter

6.18.21 San Francisco Sunrise


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